Surreal Sensations

A word from M F Tomlinson

I was very excited to be asked to make these compositions! It seemed obvious to call the fictitious musical group inspired by Diviners the Surreal Sensations.

So why did I produce these particular compositions? Well first and foremost (and I’m not being funny) because they came from the great beyond. Creating music often feels like asking a question and opening yourself up to the answers - being ready when they come. Once inspiration has struck, the details then are always a combination of chance, dumb luck and instinct. After that, the next step is of course hard work, realism and staying power to get things FINISHED. But there's got to be a little cognition in it after all - so here's some words to that.

Diviners talk alot about about synesthesia and surrealism, which spoke to me of psychedelia and freak fusion and spiritual jazz. Gin has a certain classicism to it, or it has a lot of history. It's an interesting alcohol - historically. So it had to sit between the past and the future and also the invisible, the void - you know? So it's a little of the old school and a little of the new school.

My mind immediately leapt to Alice Coltrane, Journey in Satchinananda. The trance that the players are under on this piece comes from divine depths, it somehow grooves harder than the most insistent four-to-the-floor beat. Also in the brief was the later work of Herbie Hancock, who found a way to fuse sounds from outer space with the DNA of jazz to create something a little beyond our senses. Also very fundamental to my approach was to imbue everthing with a sense of woozy fun, and this is very much thanks to Holger Czukay. It's his methods of making music (of course I am not comparing myself to him!) that are probably closest to the process of making the Surreal Sensations songs. It was a lot of fun working with my community of musicians on these songs. We recorded quickly, then I would sift through the takes to construct the tracks until the song started to take shape, then we'd record again.

There is a lot of research that indicates that sound has a big role to play in how we perceive taste. One of the most common examples that comes up is the sound of carbonation - as in a G&T. I thought to myself, follow the bubbles! So I was always looking for them. For example, using my Eventide Harmonizer to create bubbles coming off the blips and bloops of the drum machine or the squiggles and wiggles of the Moog. 

Not only are these high pitch sounds shifting your perception to hopefully a more pleasant place, they are also enhancing the sweet and salty tastes. And that rumbling bass and the kick drum moving you, they are enhancing the umami and bitter notes of the botanicals. Recording a song with each specific gin in mind, and the experience of drinking it, not just from a musical perspective, or from this scientific perspective, but also from a larger cultural context - which is probably why a lot of people comment that Apparition came out sounding a bit more like a John Barry piece. I am pretty happy with that - after all what's more Bond than a martini? I'll have mine with Outlier thanks.

~M F Tomlinson


Links to scientific studies referenced above: